I have long argued that music, including its more formal forms (such as Carnatic or Western Classical), is exoteric — not esoteric. Esoterism may exist in understanding of the internals and underlying theory, but the experience is always accessible to anyone, including those who never intended listening.

Usually when I say I am humming now, it means I have been enjoying songs of that scale for a long spell (such as few days or even weeks) and I would like to share that experience on the blog. But sometimes, the raga chases you. Even when you don’t intend listening to a particular raga, it presents itself in different medium — so you never get a chance to forget it.

My most recent such experience is Subhapantuvarali. This raga is associated with pathos, especially as related to a person who is losing all hopes and cries to god for empathy and help. It is a very beautiful raga for meditation, prayer and such.

Over the last few days, this raga has presented itself in various forms including a classical rendition Sri Satyanarayanam by Aruna Sairam, a Jugalbandi by Bhimsen Joshi and Rashid Khan (in the Hindustani equivalent, Todi or Miyan Ki Todi) and few other classical versions.

But equally so, this raga has been reminding me of two songs. One is the song Guruve Charanam from Sri Raghavendra by Ilayaraja and another is a Ayyappan devotional song (Poi Indri Meyyodu Nei Kondu Ponaal, thanks to Roshni for confirming this) I used to hear in my neighbor’s house during my childhood days. There are plenty of Subhapantuvaralis outside the context of devotion and god as well, but nothing is soul-stirring as a prayer.

I hope you enjoy the latest in my humming now series, an addition after a long gap.